Police vow to act after ‘screening out’ claims on C4 - The Evesham Observer

Police vow to act after ‘screening out’ claims on C4

WEST Mercia Police has been forced to respond to claims about crimes not being investigated made in Channel 4’s hard-hitting Dispatches documentary.

Research carried out as part of ‘Lawless Britain: Where are the Police?’ showed 31.21 per cent of crimes in the force area were ‘screened out’, meaning they were logged but the force opted not to look into them.

Criminologist Martin Innes warned criminal damage and vehicle crimes were ‘gateway offences’, used to ‘launch criminal careers’.

“That’s the kind of thing where people learn how to commit crime, they learn the lifestyle, they learn the contacts that they need to disperse the stuff that they steal.

“And we know from pretty good evidence from research that if people engage in these kind of gateway type offences and if they are not caught and intercepted than they are more likely to go on and continue to offend at greater levels and engage in more serious forms of crime.”

One example was the case of Simon Ham – whose business was in the West Mercia Police area – who had his £20,000 van stolen. The theft was caught on CCTV, the registration number was recorded and distinctive tattoos on the thief’s arms could be seen which Mr Ham felt provided good evidence to investigate.

But he said his case was ‘screened out’ and any action taken was after he pushed the police to act.

Fears were expressed by experts that crimes not being investigated led to disillusionment from the public and incidents not being reported, meaning the police built up an inaccurate picture of the crime types and levels in their areas.

Ch Supt Kevin Purcell said victims of crime deserved and expected the highest standard of service from the police and apologised for when people felt the force fell short.

“I acknowledge on this occasion the standard of investigation fell below this standard and we are now looking to address this.

“We always endeavour to ensure our investigations are proportionate to the threat, harm and risk posed but also the likelihood of a successful outcome.”

He understood the impact vehicle theft had on victims, their daily lives and their livelihoods.

Under ‘Protect’, he said, the force was working hard to robustly tackle organised crime groups, putting a stop to their activity.

Crime prevention played a huge role in stopping crime in the first place and over the past few years the force had worked in partnership with local communities and the Police and Crime Commissioner to make towns, villages and rural communities even safer by making them We Don’t Buy Crime areas.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said he was committed to putting victims first, ensuring they received an efficient and effective service.

“West Mercia Police deals with around 9,000 calls and unfortunately will sometimes fall below this standard.

“It’s important to recognise and learn from these mistakes, as they did in the particular case.”

“I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account ensuring West Mercia Police have the resources to deliver the service our communities expect.”


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